Aug 10, 2020

Stepping Back Out into the Franchising Industry’s (Virtual) Real World

Written by Ian Walsh

The pandemic has robbed us of so many things we value in our personal and professional lives. One of the things I’ve missed most these past 5 months is attending live events of all kinds, including in-person conferences. Whether it’s the professional development, making new connections via networking, or just getting re-charged in my career, in-person events play a unique role in our society. The franchising community in particular has embraced live events as strongly as I’ve ever seen in my career, so the forced cancellation of so many events at the hands of COVID-19 hits especially hard. With the new normal starting to feel like business as usual, I’ve begun to see more instances of virtual events cropping up.  Our recent webinars have drawn our highest registration and attendance totals in our history, so we know that the appetite for learning has not waned. The technology is in place to imitate, if not replicate, many of the elements of a bigger live event. But are we ready to spend our time at events, or are we still busy managing the disruptions to our respective businesses?

At FranConnect we have debated participating in a few virtual events recently. But neither the timing nor the topics seemed right given everything else swirling around us… Until now. 


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Our friends at Tortal Training and Speak! Franchise Speakers teamed up to conceive a brilliant, 3-day virtual event for the franchising community. I’m talking about the H.E.A.T. Summit, and if you haven’t heard about it yet, you should take a few minutes now to check it out.  H.E.A.T. stands for Help, Engagement, Action, Transformation – all of which are critical for us at any time, but especially now.  

Once we heard the vision for the event, we jumped at the chance to sponsor and help organize it. Why? Because it combines great content – from inspirational keynotes to practical take-home advice – specifically for the franchising world, together with a purpose-built technology platform which will make you forget (almost!) that you aren’t face-to-face with hundreds of your peers.  H.E.A.T. is a 3-day action-packed event, where all the content is broadcast live, with plenty of chances to catch your breath or network with other participants and presenters. Attendees will be able to move in and out of “rooms” and choose the presentation and networking sessions they are most interested in. 

The keynote speakers are some of the best-known names in the business world today, who are excited to get back out in front of audiences, with messages and presentations that are purpose-built for today’s new reality. This includes the executive leadership of the IFA, (who have been advocating around-the-clock on behalf of franchisors), as well as experts from the worlds of Finance, HR, Corporate Performance, Technology, and even Sports.  But it’s not only about the big picture, this conference gets very practical across a number of topics important to the franchising world, including finance, marketing, development, and more. Here are two of the sessions we are most excited about:

Vision – Opportunity – and Growth: How franchisors can enhance franchisee profitability.

Charles Watson, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café and Mike Skitzki, Operating Partner at Franworth. Moderated by FranConnect’s Chief Product Officer, Jaffrey Ali.  Obviously, a critical topic right now with franchisors looking for the best ways to support franchisees, with nothing more important than their bottom lines. 

Franchise Sales: Now & In the Future – Lead Flow: Where to Find Qualified Leads

This panel includes Bart Van Dessel, a veteran Sales leader at FranConnect. Bart will be able to share insights from his years of working with our largest customers, along with insights from our recent mid-year Franchise Sales Index Report. 

So, if you’re still on the fence, here’s why I think you should consider registering. We have all spent months heads-down, scrambling to adjust so many things in our lives, and this is finally a chance to get back into the (virtual) real world and broaden our horizons. You owe it to yourself, and I think you will be better off for doing it.

Oh, and to sweeten the deal, we have secured a special discount code for friends of FranConnect, which is good for 20% off of the already-reasonable registration fee. Register online at and use code FRANCONNECT20 for the discount.


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About the author

Ian Walsh

Ian leads Marketing at FranConnect. He is an accomplished B2B Marketing executive with a track record of driving results at companies including CEB/Gartner, SAP, Software AG, MicroStrategy, CARTO and TrackMaven. He‘s passionate about fostering talent while achieving business objectives, and loves to implement data-driven strategies. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina.

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